Summer learning loss

Despite widespread belief that children lose much as a month of school learning over the course of the summer, the evidence is decidedly mixed (“5 things parents need to know about ‘summer loss,’” The Conversation, Jul. 17).  That is particularly so for elementary school students.

Only a small percent of students loses the equivalent of one month of school year learning in reading and math.  Yet I wonder if the traditional school-year calendar doesn’t need altering.  I think that learning is maximized when vacations are spread out, rather than massed.  For example, instead of the typical three-month summer vacation, why not cut it in half and use the rest of the time during the school year?  When I was teaching, I remember that by the time August arrived, most students were bored.  By the same token, most students were exhausted during the spring semester because they had only one week off during spring break.

I taught summer school twice during my 28-year career in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  The school day ended by noon, which meant students had the time off to relax at play.  I never had students disrupting instruction with that schedule.  Why can’t we adjust the regular school year to incorporate a similar schedule?

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